December 5, 2006
Many hit the slopes at Ajax and Snowmass Monday. I toiled in purgatory.No, not Durango. You may know this place by another name: the driver’s license office in the Glenwood Mall. While riders tore up Back of Bell, I sat in an unforgiving plastic chair in an alcove outside J.C. Penney, in between Jeffrey Dahmer and a surly Alice Cooper look-alike. Needless to say, I avoided eye contact.While my Volkls idled in the back seat of my Jeep, I took a number and prepared for the worst. I pulled 830, then looked up and saw they were now serving No. 1. I was told to refer only to the last two digits, but, as the lady next to me quipped, “It might as well be 800.”I tried to kill time by counting the black-and-white floor tiles. I checked and rechecked my jacket pockets to make sure I didn’t leave my birth certificate in the glove compartment. I squinted to read trivia questions and organ donation pitches that scrolled across an illuminated screen. (Did you know your organs could help as many as 50 people lead better lives? If I agree to contribute, can I cut in line?) Does anyone know where the first hamburger was made? They didn’t bother posting answers to the trivia questions. I followed that screen for more than an hour in the hopes I’d find out. I’ll just have to Google it.I could have obtained a Colorado license months earlier. Perhaps on a rainy day in May when all I’d miss are Steven Seagal reruns. I had to procrastinate, to wait six days before my Connecticut license expired to finally get a clue. As a result, I missed out on another crystal-clear day on the hill. Genius.There’s no wonder people – especially me – look so ridiculous in their license pictures. It’s hard to look your best when you’ve been sitting for so long in a nonergonomic chair that you’re hunched over from the back pain. The hour-plus I spent provided enough time for my hat to make my hair look like a matted football helmet. I could feel facial hair starting to grow. One man walked up, took one look at the somber crowd, then said, “Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.” Failure, for me, was not an option. I sat, head resting on my hands, clutching my number like it was a winning lottery ticket. Under my breath, I reminded myself to resist the urge to shout, “Bingo,” or cheer when my number was eventually called. As for the license? It took me three tries to snap a picture in which my eyes were open. And they said they’ll send it to me in a month.Jon Maletz’s next trick will be getting a Colorado phone number.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.